Black Collar Workers




I’ve been making the argument that all record labels should sell their bands’ music through Bandcamp for some time now; the platform offers all you could ever ask for (price scalability, multiple file formats, physical bundle support, embedability, Facebook integration, etc etc) for a much lower cut than most digital distributors would take. What’ve the labels got to lose by signing up? Relapse, Seventh Rule, Basick, Candlelight and several others are already on board, while the rest of the metal label world lags predictably behind.

Now I’ve got some hard data to support my argument. Bandcamp’s been tracking how users get to their site — as pretty much every website does (including MetalSucks) — and what they’ve found is that people are buying music they specifically set out to pirate. Quote:

A few months ago, we began tracking the starting point of every sale that happens on Bandcamp. In the course of looking at the data (which we’re using to help us plan out what to do next), we’ve noticed something awesome: every day, fans are buying music that they specifically set out to get for free.

For example, just this morning someone paid $10 for an album after Googling “lelia broussard torrent.” A bit later, a fan plunked down $17 after searching for “murder by death, skeletons in the closet, mediafire.” Then a $15 sale came in from the search “maimouna youssef the blooming hulkshare.” Then a fan made a $12 purchase after clicking a link on music torrent tracker What.CD.

That’s pretty amazing. The key to Bandcamp’s success is that their interface is remarkably simple with no superfluous clicks or visual bullshit of any kind; you land on the page, you click and you buy. I suspect that people also like the ability to choose from a variety of file formats, including lossless FLAC. And the fact that their buying module is accessible from a web browser instead without using an outside app of any kind (iTunes, Amazon) probably really helps too.

It’s worth pointing out that Bandcamp doesn’t have data about how many people end up pirating releases after their Google searches (in other words, what percent of such searches result in a Bandcamp purchases), but some money via a few Bandcamp sales is certainly better than none. Some other interesting metrics from the study:

  • In the month of December alone, Bandcamp artists raked in more than one million dollars in music and merch sales (bringing the total to-date to $12.6MM).
  • 22% of those sales happened because of Bandcamp, driven by things like tags, the home page, recommendations, and search.
  • 40% of the time, fans pay more than the asking price for name-your-price albums.
  • 53% of all purchases are made by fans located outside the U.S. (Check out the countries in this recent snapshot of the live sales feed.)
So… tell me again, why aren’t all the labels ditching their outdated digital distro deals and joining Bandcamp and other platforms like it?


Thanks: Adam E.

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